Alaska reports 9 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday as the number of cases continues to fall – Community News
Covid-19

Alaska reports 9 more COVID-19 deaths on Wednesday as the number of cases continues to fall

Alaska reported a further nine virus-related deaths and 508 COVID-19 cases on Wednesday, as part of a downward trajectory in cases identified across the state.

“We’ve seen a decrease (in cases) of 14% this week compared to the week before,” said Dr. Anne Zink, Alaska Chief Medical Officer.

The number of hospitalizations related to viruses also continued to fall. On Wednesday, 130 people were hospitalized with COVID-19, state dashboard data shows, with about 14% of the state’s hospitalized patients considered active cases.

That’s a significant drop from a peak of more than 200 people in hospital on average since September, but still relatively high compared to most of the pandemic.

Some hospitals — including Mat-Su Regional Medical Center in Palmer and Central Peninsula Hospital in Soldotna — still have relatively high patient numbers, Heidi Hedberg, director of public health for the Alaska Department of Health and Social Services, said in an interview on Wednesday.

But managing those facilities, transfers between hospitals are much easier than they were a few weeks ago, and staff and resources feel less strained than before, Hedberg said.

[As COVID hospitalizations decline in Alaska, association president says, ‘It feels like we’re at a turning point’]

While crisis standards for care are still officially enabled in about 20 of Alaska’s hospitals, hospital officials have said the declining numbers of COVID-positive patients have meant facilities have not had to act on those standards in recent weeks.

“I think everyone can breathe a little bit easier now, which is great,” Hedberg said.

Beginning in July, a wave of viruses, driven by the highly contagious delta strain, caused a surge in hospitalizations and deaths around Alaska — primarily among the unvaccinated — and brought the health care system to a breaking point.

The consequences of that wave are still being confirmed. Wednesday’s newly reported deaths brought the state’s total number of COVID-19 deaths since the start of the pandemic to 801 residents and 30 non-residents.

The latest deaths included a Fairbanks man in his sixties, a Delta Junction man in his sixties, a Wasilla woman in her sixties, a Wasilla man in her fifties, an Anchorage woman in her seventies and four men from Anchorage, including two in their sixties. , one in his fifties and one in his thirties.

On Tuesday, the state reported 28 virus deaths, most of them in October, and on Monday, Alaska reported 53 virus deaths, most of them in September. September and October 2021 have been the deadliest months of the Alaska pandemic so far, state data shows.

Deaths from COVID-19 do not always appear immediately in the state’s virus data. Sometimes they don’t appear until health officials review death certificates, a process that can sometimes take several weeks.

Government agencies rely on death certificates to report COVID-19 deaths. If a doctor determines that a COVID-19 infection contributed to a person’s death, it will be recorded on the death certificate and ultimately counted in the state’s official toll, health officials say.

Despite the downward trajectory in cases, Alaska’s seven-day case rate — at 530 per 100,000, or nearly 3 1/2 times the national average — remains the highest among the U.S. states, according to data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“As we move into the holiday season, I really hope we continue to see a decrease in the number of cases and a decrease in hospitalizations,” Hedberg said Wednesday.

The proportion of COVID-19 testing that returned positive results was 7.7% on a seven-day moving average on Wednesday, down from a peak of more than 10% in mid-October.

Of Alaska residents 5 years and older, 59% have now received at least one dose of a COVID-19 vaccine, state data shows.

Note: The Alaska Department of Health and Social Services coronavirus data dashboard will not be updated on Thursday due to the Veterans Day holiday.